Officials with the Ventura County Parks and Recreation Management are asking a court to toss out parts of the wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Naya Rivera’s family, and claiming the star was offered a life jacket before her tragic boat trip … but ultimately she decided not to wear it.
According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, Ventura County officials filed a motion to strike in the ongoing wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the notion that the boat was unsafe due to the lack of flotation devices is untrue, claiming they “offered a life vest” to the former ‘Glee’ star, which she “declined to wear.”
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According to the documents, “Ms. Rivera was offered a life vest by Parks Management Company’s boat rental agent, which Ms. Rivera declined to wear, after which the rental agent ‘put the vest in the rental boat’.”
It continued, “Regardless of whether the (The Family) allege that the boat was not equipped with flotation devices, a life vest was present in the boat at the time of the incident.”
As we reported, following the tragic drowning of the young actress Naya’s ex-husband — Ryan Dorsey — filed the complaint on behalf of their son who was with his mother on the day of the accident. The young boy was found floating in the boat, alone, following the incident.
In the newest filing, the P & R claim the complaint does “not constitute acts of oppression, fraud or malice as is required by recovering punitive or exemplary damages.”
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At the time, Dorsey claimed Naya’s death was “utterly preventable” after the pontoon boat she rented at Lake Piru was “not equipped with a safely accessible ladder, adequate rope, an anchor, a radio, or any security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from their boats”.
He continued, a “later inspection revealed that the boat was not even equipped with any flotation or lifesaving devices, in direct violation of California law, which requires all pontoons longer than 16 feet be equipped with flotation devices.”
In the new filing, Ventura County Parks & Recreation officials responded to the allegation, claiming, “Other than the lack of an anchor, no facts are alleged demonstrating how a lack of any of these things caused (Naya’s) death. The pleading does not allege that Ms. Rivera died while attempting to climb back into the boat, and therefore a lack of a safety ladder did not cause her death.”
Adding, “Rather, it is alleged that she had become separated from the boat.”
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“The only item missing from the boat which could actually have a casual connection to Ms. Rivera’s death was an anchor,” they admit in the documents.
But, as we reported, Dorsey claims the pontoon boat that Naya rented was one of the older boats available that day — and had not been refurbished. Plus, he said it “displayed signage inaccurately” claiming the boat complied with U.S. Coast Guard safety standards.
Naya Rivera went missing on July 8, 202 after jumping off the boat and swimming with her son in Lake Piru, after a 5-day search, her body was discovered.
The wrongful death lawsuit is ongoing.